Enhancing Sharing in Simple and Meaningful New Ways
Since 2012, education technology firm Clarity Innovations has worked closely with the Math Learning Center to create a collection of eleven applications based on the visual models featured in the Bridges in Mathematics K-5 curriculum. These approachable yet powerful apps have been widely adopted by educators: with more than 1.5 million now installed on classroom iPads, along with more than 2.7 million annual sessions using web-based versions on Chromebooks and laptops.
These applications are open-ended educational tools, ideal for elementary classrooms and other learning environments. Most represent an enhanced digital manifestation of traditional or physical models that the Math Learning Center has long used to teach math concepts, including number racks, number lines, and geoboards.
While educators have been pleased with these digital resources, one area that they’ve felt a bit limited by was the inability to share work between teachers and students. For simplicity, the apps weren’t built around the concept of documents or file saving. However, over time it started to become clear that there was a need for the apps to better support communication in the classroom in multiple ways.
First, teachers had a wish to share activities or problems that they had created with students. Secondly, they wanted better ways for students to share their work using the app with their classmates or teacher. And finally—in early brainstorming for future curricular updates—the Math Learning Center staff recognized the potential for building a set of app “start states” that can be woven into lessons using the apps in the future.
With the recent introduction of a new version of the Number Pieces app, Clarity has helped the Math Learning Center to expand the impact of their apps by creating a new sharing scheme that supports all of these scenarios, while also supporting two other essential requirements: privacy and simplicity.
If a teacher wants to set up the Number Pieces app for students to solve a problem or explore a specific concept, for instance, she simply uses the app to lay out the scenario: including annotations or instructions using the Writing or Math Text tools (for expressions and equations).
When ready, the teacher simply clicks the Share button to generate a URL or a code that she shares with students.
Then, students simply follow the link or enter the code on their device to access a copy of the teacher’s shared activity. Once they complete their work, they can share it with their teacher or peers in the same manner, as well as in the form of a saved PNG image.
The Clarity team is working to add this same capability to the entire suite of MLC apps. And as they work on their next generation of the Bridges Math curriculum, MLC will create a collection of “start states” that dynamically support student activities throughout their curriculum.
These powerful apps are an example of what can happen when a company works closely with a client to solve real education problems: providing relevant and insightful solutions that make an immediate, practical and—above all—measurably positive impact on learning.
Try using a shared Number Pieces activity here.